Usino - History and Cultural Relations

Little is known about the origins of the Usino people; linguistic evidence suggests that they may derive from the Madang coastal area to the east. Usino people date first European contact in the late 1920s when the German Lutheran mission first settled in the Finisterre Mountains. Apparently, Indigenous missionaries from the coast were the only source of regular foreign influence, while European government and mission patrols from Madang and Bundi made frequent visits until the 1960s. During World War II, German and indigenous missionaries returned to their homes while Usino People scattered to the bush during the fighting between Americans and Japanese in the region. When the missionaries Returned in the late 1940s and 1950s, Christianity had been eclipsed by cargo cults, which flourished until the mid-1960s. Although an indigenous Lutheran missionary settled in Usino village in 1980, traditional beliefs remain strong. Prior to the establishment of Usino Patrol Post and airstrip in 1967, access to the port town of Madang entailed a four-day trek. In 1974, a feeder road from the Lae-Madang Highway connected Usino Patrol Post with the coast and the Highlands. In 1981, when Walium supplanted Usino Patrol Post as the Upper Ramu District headquarters, the airstrip and health center closed, and Usino people were alienated from their primary source of cash income. Usino responded to these recidivistic trends in the mid-1970s to mid-1980s with a sense of increased relative isolation.

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